Head of Indonesian political dynasty jailed 4 years

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesia's first female provincial leader, and the head of one of the country's most powerful political dynasties, was jailed for 4 years on Monday, September 1, for bribing a top judge over an election dispute.

The case of Ratu Atut Chosiyah has transfixed even graft-weary Indonesia since her arrest last year for giving kickbacks to the Constitutional Court's then chief justice, Akil Mochtar.

Her family dominates wealthy Banten province on the main island of Java, controlling 5 of its 8 districts. It is one of several local political dynasties that have flourished since the 1998 downfall of dictator Suharto.

Judges at the special Anti-Corruption Court in Jakarta found the 52-year-old suspended Banten governor guilty of bribing Akil with IDR1 billion ($85,000) to annul a local election result in Banten that went against one of her close associates.

She was sentenced to 4 years in jail, lighter than the 10-year term sought by prosecutors. She was also ordered to pay a fine of IDR200 million ($17,000).

"Clearly it's not fair to me," said Atut, who has been in custody since her arrest in December 2013, after the verdict was handed down. "I'm the victim."

Prosecutors said at an earlier hearing that Akil was asked to annul the election result during a meeting in Singapore, and the Constitutional Court later did so. A main role of the court is ruling on election disputes.

The governor's brother, Tubagus Chaeri Wardana, was jailed for 5 years in June for plotting to bribe Mochtar to influence his rulings on election disputes in Banten, after a separate trial.

Despite the scandal, the governor's family remain powerful in the province.

Mochtar was jailed for life in June for accepting more than $5 million in bribes to influence rulings on election disputes, linked to the case of Atut and a series of others.

NGO Transparency International ranked Indonesia 114th out of 177 countries and territories in its annual corruption perceptions index last year. A number one ranking means the least corrupt. – Rappler.com